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Wragge & Co secures judicial review win for Ofqual

14.02.13

 

Wragge & Co's Public Law and Regulation team has helped regulator Ofqual rebuff an attempt to overturn GCSE grades awarded in summer 2012. The case was heard by a Divisional Court, comprising two judges. Delivering the judgment of the Court, Lord Justice Elias rejected a claim that changes to grade boundaries in GCSE English exams were unlawful.

The judgment followed judicial review proceedings brought against Ofqual and examination boards AQA and Edexcel by 167 pupils, 150 schools, 42 councils and six professional bodies, including teachers' unions. They claimed that the number of marks required to achieve a grade C had been increased unlawfully in an attempt to reduce the numbers of pupils achieving higher GCSE grades.

Ofqual argued that the January assessments had been graded generously and that there had been some over-marking of assessments in June. The increase in grade boundaries was necessary to maintain standards. The judge agreed, saying that Ofqual and the exam boards had not "erred in law".

Chief regulator Glenys Stacey said: "We welcome the decision of the court that, faced with a difficult situation, Ofqual did the right thing and the fairest thing, for the right reasons."

Public law and regulation partner John Cooper led the Wragge & Co team, assisted by associate Kieran Laird. They worked alongside Ofqual head of legal Natalie Prosser and Helen Mountfield QC of Matrix Chambers. Herbert Smith Freehills partner Andrew Lidbetter advised Edexcel. Eversheds partner Bill Gilliam acted for AQA.

Due to the urgency of the matter, the case was brought to trial within an extraordinarily expedited timetable and the court ruled on both permission to bring the judicial review and the subsequent application at a single hearing

John Cooper said: "This was an extremely important case for Ofqual, and we are pleased to have succeeded in securing a positive outcome. Within a tight timetable, the team - Wragge & Co, Ofqual and counsel - worked hard to prepare witness statements and legal submissions, successfully persuading the court of the merits of Ofqual's position."

Ofqual regulates a range of qualifications in England, including GCSEs and A-levels, and vocational qualifications in England and Northern Ireland. Wragge & Co has been Ofqual's legal adviser since 2010.

The Public Law and Regulation team advises on a full range of issues including judicial review, the interpretation and application of statutory and regulatory frameworks, human rights and equalities issues, freedom of information and the development of new legislation. Its work covers a wide spread of sectors including healthcare, energy, water, education, food and drink, pharmaceutical, telecoms, utilities, education, gambling and transport.

 

For further information about this press release, contact Kathryn Hobbs on +44 (0)121 685 2785 or Sophie Llewhelin on +44 (0)121 685 2708

This press release may contain information of general interest about current legal issues, but does not give legal advice.

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